WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2016

New immunization requirements take effect in Minnesota next week

New immunization requirements will take effect in Minnesota next week that require students in the state to receive certain vaccinations or submit documentation proving a legal exemption.

The new rules, which take effect on Sept. 1, require new vaccines, including hepatitis B for children over two months of age or those enrolled in an early childhood program; hepatitis A for children over age two in childcare or an early childhood program; and meningococcal and tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap) for all students entering seventh grade.

In addition to the new vaccines, changes will also take effect for vaccines previously required by the state.

Children older than 15 months must have received a chickenpox vaccine or show documentation that they have had the vaccine or that they have a legal exemption. Children entering kindergarten must have had their final polio and Tdap vaccines on or after their fourth birthday.

Under the new immunization requirements, students in all grades must have documentation for all vaccines, and if the school requests records of vaccination, parents must comply or provide documentation of a legal exemption.

"High vaccination rates are important for keeping kids in school instead of being home sick with a serious, vaccine-preventable disease," Kristen Ehresmann, the director of infectious diseases for the Minnesota Department of Health, said. "It also helps protect those kids who can't get certain immunizations because of medical conditions or who don't respond to immunizations because of a weakened immune system."

The Minnesota Immunization Program has launched a new website and social media and awareness campaign to educate parents on the importance of vaccines. Ehresmann said the efforts are also aimed at notifying parents about other vaccines recommended for adolescents, including the HPV and influenza vaccines.